Forget India... call centres are moving to Bulgaria
British firms look to outsource closer to home
The next time you pick up the phone to pay a bill, book a holiday or reserve some tickets, it's possible that you won't be speaking to an office in Cardiff or Sunderland or even Bangalore - but to someone at one of an increasing number of call centres in Bulgaria.
British firms such as Thomas Cook, eBay, Sky, Seatwave and Zumba Fitness have all outsourced aspects of their customer services to Bulgaria. Such deals have led some to suggest that India may finally be quietly losing its crown as the call-centre capital of the world.
British businessman Jonathan Gladwish 's firm, 60K, is one of the half a dozen or so outsourcing firms attracting companies to Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, where it handles more than 3,000 British customers a day.
“When we set up in 2008, Bulgaria was virgin territory with an ageing telecoms infrastructure and practically no outsourcing,” said Mr Gladwish, who employs 650 staff speaking 27 languages.
“That's all changed. During that period I've come to realise how well educated the young people are here - something like 93 per cent of my staff are graduates or postgraduates who want to work for me for two, three or even four years before moving on.”
Mr Gladwish, whose customers include Sky Broadband, saves 40 to 50 per cent by basing his operation in eastern Europe. He contrasts the situation in Bulgaria with that in the UK, where working in a call centre is often a seen as little but a “stopgap” for graduates.
Call centres are moving away from India Lidiya Hadzhieva, 24, is typical of the workers in Bulgaria's call centres.
She studied abroad and graduated from an Austrian university last year with a degree in political science and speaks German, English and, of course, Bulgarian.
“My first intention was to stay and work in Austria,” she said. “But I knew outsourcing was growing in Bulgaria and the profile employers are looking for is young people like me with language skills. It was natural for me to look for a job here.”
Bulgaria is still the EU's poorest state, and student groups have occupied the country's biggest university in recent weeks amid anti-government unrest over poverty and corruption.
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Vogue under fire for 'Big Booty' article
Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Jihadi John': MI5 may have identified Isis militant who killed David Haines but options limited
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: Police will be on high alert on Friday whatever the result
The wedding photo from Ground Zero: A shot in the dark
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Negotiable: Randstad Education Ilford: A Redbridge based Primary School is see...
£19200 - £26880 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: In NVQ Ass...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...
£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...